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CEF Board

CEF Chairman Nick Burton Taylor AM.

Nick Burton Taylor AM

Nick is the founding Chairman of the Country Education Foundation of Australia and Boorowa Education Foundation, which he helped establish in 1993 with his wife Julia Burton-Taylor and other individuals from the Boorowa community. Their vision was to support young people in rural and regional areas through education.

He is a Principal of Hillgrove Pastoral, the Vice President and Treasurer of Bush Heritage Australia, Chairman of MH Premium Farms and the Chairman of Delta Agribusiness. His past achievements include founder and former Managing Director of Hays Personnel (Australia), Chancellor of Southern Cross University and President of Institute of Chartered Accountants. He has also served on the boards of several companies including CSR Limited, Hazelton Airlines, Rural Press, Sydney Airport Corporation, Meat Research Corporation, Australian Agricultural Company, Airservices Australia and Australian Topmaking Services Limited.

He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1998 for services to business through the accounting profession.

Nick is committed to supporting rural communities and continues to be passionate about increasing educational opportunity for young people in rural and regional Australia.

“Young Australians growing up in regional areas are not presented with the same education and career enhancing opportunities as those born in major cities. Over the decades, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, we have helped to redress this challenge. The results are inspiring”


David Smithers AM

David is the Director of the James N Kirby Foundation. He is also a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

David was previously the Chairman of PwC Australia, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, a Director of Rabobank Australia and New Zealand and a Director of Genea Ltd.

This experience is greatly valued by CEF as he contributes to ensuring the sound financial position of the Foundation in his role as Treasurer.

He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1998 for his service to the community through the National Heart Foundation, the Institute of Chartered Accountants and to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Bid as a member of the Board and Chairman of the Finance Commission.

“Education gives self-respect to those who acquire it. By supporting education, I believe the effect will be multiplied many times over”

CEF co-founder Julia Burton Taylor.

Julia Burton Taylor OAM

Julia is a founding member of the Country Education Foundation of Australia and an active committee member of CEF Boorowa. She worked with her husband, Nick Burton Taylor and members from the local community to help establish CEF. They saw the disparity of educational opportunity in rural and regional areas and wanted to help young people pursue further education.  Julia is also part of the Management Committee for Hillgrove Pastoral.

In 2015, Julia was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to youth in rural and remote areas and to the not-for-profit sector. She continues to work as an education advocate and is passionate about empowering people through education.

“I have watched firsthand the power of local small communities reaching out to the next generation and helping them achieve a pathway to a career through further education”


Jono Forrest

Jono is the fresh face of the Country Education Foundation of Australia Board, having joined in the second half of 2023. However, he brings with him a wealth of CEF experience with him, having volunteered for the Country Education Foundation of Snowy Monaro as a committee member from 2005 until 2019. He also completed work for CEF during his time as an accountant and Director at Boyce Chartered Accountants, who have been a longstanding partner and service provider for CEF.

Originally from Mount Pleasant, South Australia, he has called the Snowy Monaro region of NSW home since 1996. His career started in agriculture, but after graduating from university, he spent 27 years working as an accountant. He has recently returned to the agriculture sector, working as the General Manager for Mulloon Consulting, an organisation that focuses on landscape rehydration. His accounting qualifications include BBus (AgComm); GradDipCA.

Jono also volunteers as Treasurer for the Monaro Family Support Service and the Institute of Ecological Agriculture and has been a board member of various other industry and for-purpose organisations.

He is passionate about helping young people in regional areas with their pursuits for further education and furthering their careers and believes the work of CEF can help put them on the same playing field as their metropolitan counterparts.

“The commitment of a regional community to supporting its people is what CEF signifies to
me. I've seen it work first-hand over almost 20 years in my local community and helps young people seek opportunities that their metropolitan counterparts take for granted. The local foundations also benefit tremendously with support from the national organisation.”


Peita Burton Taylor

Peita is a founding family member of the Country Education Foundation of Australia, now with a young family of her own she understands the importance of education and the challenges young people face. Peita is the CEO of the Burton Taylor Foundation and is passionate about philanthropy. She is also involved in the family agricultural business, Kenny’s Creek Angus. Peita has extensive marketing, client and project management experience in the experiential marketing industry where she has worked with global brands. Peita studied Floristry at London Flower School before returning to Australia to study Bachelor of Art at ANU and UNSW, she then completed her Masters in Management at UTS. Peita has volunteered locally and internationally for Non-For Profits.

“There is nothing more rewarding than following a CEF recipient’s journey and seeing the impact that CEF can have both individually and generationally within their family and community. I am in awe of what these young adults are achieving and the support that is given by their committees, community, the CEF team and philanthropists”


Dougal Geddes

Dougal was a Principal of Foulsham & Geddes, Solicitors, from 1982 to 2015 and he continues to be an Executive Lawyer and Consultant to the firm. He has been practicing law since 1978 and has vast experience in a large variety of legal matters.

He has previously been a member of several Law Society of New South Wales Committees (including the Ethics Committee, Practice & Conduct Committee and the Succession & Elder Law Committee).

Dougal is currently involved with a range of youth mentoring programs including being a Mentor for the Raise Foundation, Youth Off the Streets and Police and Community Youth Clubs employees.

“We are told that ‘money can’t buy you love or happiness’, but money can buy education, and education can deliver EVERYTHING. Education is THE most powerful man-made natural resource”


Paula McLean

Paula has a background as an editor in book publishing including education and fiction. She is the author of Good Foods for Babies and Toddlers and the author of two parenting books written for The Benevolent Society (PlayPower: Birth to One Year and PlayPower: One to Three Years). She is a founding trustee of McLean Foundation which supports rural and Indigenous education, preschool literacy, conservation, victims of domestic violence and Australian literature. The McLean Foundation University Scholarships for disadvantaged Broken Hill students were established in 2009 in partnership with the Country Education Foundation of Australia. She began the Nature Writing Prize for Australian writers in 2011, administered by The Nature Conservancy Australia and awarded biennially.  Paula is the immediate past Deputy Chair of The Stella Prize for women’s writing and is a Stella Patron. She was honoured with Philanthropy Australia’s Life Membership Award in 2021.

“A tertiary education is the scaffolding all young people need and its impact for both students and their communities is profound. CEF not only provide scholarships to young rural students but then ‘walk with them’ to provide critical support if they encounter difficulties along the way. This is what sets CEF apart from other scholarship programs”